Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The 13 Tourism & Development Conference was held in Athens, organised by the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) on October 20-21titled "The Strategic Advantages of Greece: Investments & Growth." Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and Peter Long, the CEO of TUI Travel PLC - one of Europe’s biggest tour operators - attended the event.

Tourism, Samaras said, will receive a boost of €500 million per year in the form of EU subsidies, and that efforts are being made to overcome an EU directive that is hampering the subsidization of major investments. He added that tourism has provided great support to the country during tough times, and condemned those who scoff at efforts to develop the sector such as the liberalization of cruise tourism.

Greece’s biggest challenge in tourism for 2015 will be to extend the holiday season to twelve months a year and increase investments in the sector, the tourism minister said. Kefalogianni added that  2015 will be a good year for the sector, not just in terms of arrivals and revenues, but also in investments. "2015 is a crucial year and no success should be wasted." The ministry is working towards attracting investment and the response has so far been positive. Kefalogianni rejected claims that Greece’s good performance in tourism this year is coincidental, saying it’s the result of having a clear vision, a plan and the political will to promote the industry.

The leading European tour operator will bring some 2.2 million tourists to Greece next year, in addition to getting the season off to an early start compared to other years and offering its clients new, smaller Greek destinations. These were the promises delivered yesterday by TUI head Peter Long. And on his part, SETE president Andreas Andreadis said that tourism has contributed €14 billion in direct revenues this year, and along with air and maritime transport and domestic tourism this figure has reached € 17.1 billion euros as a direct result. The total direct and indirect contribution of tourism to the real economy is between 20.5 and 24.7% of the country’s gross domestic product according to provisional data, or €37.6 to 45.3 billion.

Even though Greece’s bonds and stock have been hit by the markets this month, Morgan Stanley urges investors to bet on "Greecovery."

Morgan Stanley points out that, while Greece is still in deflation, which worsens the debt-to-GDP ratio, classic debt sustainability models fail to capture the effect of the extremely long maturity loans from the eurozone, which minimizes the impact of falling nominal economic output; i.e. Greece's official loans (not the bonds traded in the market) are becoming more and more some sort of semi-perpetual debt.

Hence, Morgan Stanley analysts conclude that given the improved risk/reward following the recent sell-off, they return to a constructive stance in Greek Government Bonds; they suggest that despite the near-term political uncertainty current valuations provide adequate protection and the economy is likely to start growing.

Greek start-up Crypteia Networks was bought out by Hong Kong-based telecommunications multinational PCCW Global, as it was announced on October 20. Founded in 2011, Crypteia develops innovative solutions for secure communications, which allows enterprises to monitor possible problems from digital threats in their internal as well as external networks. The start-up already has customers in over 20 sectors, including shipping, telecoms, and finance.

PCCW Global has acquired 100% of Crypteia for an undisclosed amount. It will maintain Crypteia’s operation mode, as the Greek company will retain its name and continue its activities in Greece.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was the only place of worship destroyed during the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Church was originally built in 1916 by Greek immigrants and stood across the World Trade Center in New York City. When the South Tower collapsed, the Church was flattened. No one was inside when the church was destroyed and very little of its content was ever recovered. 

In a special ceremony and service, held on October 18, Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America blessed the rebuilding of the church. The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who is responsible for the designs said he drew inspiration from Hagia Sophia.

The new church will be delivered in 2016, to commemorate its 100th anniversary. Archbishop Demetrios said "it will be a place of faith, a place of peace, solace and hope."

Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos inaugurated the new building of the Greek school "Athena" (K-9) in Bucharest on 21 October, within the framework of his two-day visit to Romania.

Gerontopoulos said that "it is with very great pleasure that I am here with you today, and it is very moving for me, because this time I find you in your new space, this beautiful school complex that embraces a special generation of Greek students. Children who, despite growing up far from the homeland, will, thanks to the efforts of their parents and teachers, remain close to the Greek spirit and the Greek language." 

The Greek School of Bucharest "Athena" was founded in 2008 following the collaboration between the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs and the Association of Greek Parents and Guardians in Bucharest, under the aegis of the Greek Embassy in Romania.